[rabbitmq-discuss] Huge latency in Linux, compared with Leopard

Holger Hoffstätte holger at wizards.de
Sat Sep 27 19:35:43 BST 2008

This is just too interesting to resist :)

Matthias Radestock wrote:
> Bogon Choi wrote:
>> I am using RabbitMQ Java library to talk with RabbitMQ Server.
> I have just run a test on a one of our Debian Linux machines here - 
> kernel 2.6.24-1-686, "Intel(R) Xeon(TM) CPU 2.80GHz stepping 09". The 
> test uses the MulticastMain example that ships with the Java client to 
> send a 1k message every second and measure the latency:
> sh runjava.sh com.rabbitmq.examples.MulticastMain -a -r 1 -s 1024 -i 5
> Once the system has settled down I get minimum latencies of around 900 
> microseconds, and average latencies of about 1050 microseconds.
> Do you see the same results on your system when running the same test?

Basically yes, though with a couple of tricks I have been able to get
minimum & average latency <300us, see below (best value was 266us!)

> There is the occasional blip that produces max latencies of around 40ms. 
> I always thought that was most likely due to the fact that the system is 
> doing other things - it's my desktop machine - but given that the figure 
> is the same that you are reporting perhaps that is not the case.

I thought so too but got the same 40ms blips on both a single-CPU machine
with other (mostly idle) processes, and my completely idle dual-core
laptop. Both are running, rabbit 1.4 and erlang 12.2.4.

Some findings:

- kernel settings matter, but not as much as one would think. My server
runs at 250 HZ & voluntary preemption, whereas the laptop runs with full
preemption at 300 HZ - however both exhibit very similar symptoms, and I
strongly suspect you'd see the same at 1000 HZ or with the RT kernel
(still need to try that one). Keep in mind that different distributions
have patched kernels to varying degrees (especially RedHat) and that the
relatively new CFQ CPU scheduler (new in 2.6.23 IIRC) had a lot of
performance oddities since its introduction. My understanding from
following the kernel list most of these should be fixed in the current
2.6.26 kernel, however the variance between the average (~1ms) and max.
latency (40ms) is IMHO just way too big for an occasional mis-schedule so
something else must be wrong. Besides we all get the same 40ms penalty so
that is a good sign that it's not the kernel scheduler per se.

- eliminate any JVM latency/threading oddities. Adjusting some VM flags
can make sure you don't get surprised by HotSpot dynamically recompiling
itself, the GC stoppping the world etc. You can actually see the native
method compiler kick in and the latencies decrease if you watch closely.
So to avoid any interference by the JVM I used JDK 6 and:

  -XX:CompileThreshold=10 -XX:+UseParNewGC -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC

This will (in order) compile methods to native code after 10 invocations,
use a second thread for collecting the young generation, and not
block-the-world when doing any major collections. You will see that the
latencies go down quite a bit after a few messages. It won't fix any
problems with Rabbit or the Erlang VM, but it reduces latency jitter on
the client side.

- I noticed that increasing the rate (-r) to 10 gave me more spikes, and
-r 100 ran with 40ms max latency all the time. This got *much* better
without -a (auto-ack) so something with the ack handling seemed to trigger
the behaviour.

- the fixed penalty for small packets reminded me of good old Mr. Nagle
who is not your friend when it comes to latency..and behold! Setting
TCP_NODELAY in both the Java client's SocketFrameHandler and the Rabbit
startup script (as documented in inet: {nodelay, Boolean}) did the trick,
even *with* auto-ack!

With this setup even my single-CPU box has only a handful of latency blips
 at -r 100 over a longer period of time, with a much smaller variance than
before (a very rare max. ~12k us) which might as well be my
cron/fetchmail/tomcat waking up. On the dual-core laptop the latencies are
all ~350/750/900 with the very occasional 1500us max. blip.

I have no idea how exactly the auto-ack works, but I suspect there is just
some bad interaction with auto-ack, beam's own internal process
scheduling, the tcp writer and possibly some inet options like e.g.
{delay_send, Boolean}.

Not sure if this helps but maybe it will give you some ideas for further


(I really need to build me an -rt kernel.. :)

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